This is one of my favorite Ted talks, not only because she’s a great story teller (and because it got me through the worst part of summer recruiting), but also because it is very hopeful. For anyone who has ever felt insecure or inapt, this is a must see. I also just love the idea that you can “fake it till you make it”—its all about your personal branding!

Came across this aptly timed article just yesterday.

Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth, says the biggest myth about charisma is the fact that it’s an innate talent.The truth is that you can create and master your own charisma if you’re willing to put in the effort.”

In case you don’t want to go through the trouble, according to the article, these are five aspects of personal charisma that are “easy for the average person to begin working on”:

1. Self-Confidence

2. Tell Great Stories

3. Body Language

4. Make the Conversation About Who You’re Talking To

5. Be a Good Listener

Samsung Selfies

Its hard to quantify the power of social media. It can elevate people to stardom virtually overnight or destroy someone’s career (life?) in less time than that (just do a search for Donald Sterling and see for yourself).

Of course, brands are always trying to surf the profitable side of that wave, without being destroyed by the negative feedback tides. And one brand that has been able to play that game is Samsung. In March this year, Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie of a handful of A-list celebrities.

That in itself would have been enough to warrant thousands of retweets, but the brilliance of this particular capture was that it was done at the Oscars, on camera (where you can easily identify the device that took the photo) broadcast to 1 billion of spectators around the world.

Needless to say, the selfie broke the retweet record (yes there is such a thing and it was previously held by President Obama’s “Four more years” tweet). To be precise, it was retweeted 3.1 million times. Samsung achieved any brand’s dream, it had everyone talking on social and traditional media and it was associated with the cream of the Hollywood crop (Julia, Meryl, Brad, Angelina, Lupita, Jennifer, Kevin…) even though they didn’t even sign up for that.

But of course, this social media home run began to sound too good to be true. Almost immediately after it was posted, speculation began that the selfie was not 100% spontaneous but rather a carefully planned multi-million dollar publicity stunt, after all Samsung was one of the most prominent sponsors of the this year’s Oscars. Spontaneous or not, the result was still astounding, and probably worth every penny. Does it even matter that it wasn’t authentic?

Later that evening there was buzz on the internet that Ellen herself doesn’t even use a Samsung phone when she allegedly tweeted a photo backstage via Twitter for iPhone app. She later made a statement saying that it had been a hack, but the point here really is that when a brand puts itself out there on social media, it opens itself to all sorts of unintended consequences.

Samsung didn’t stop there. During a visit to the White House, baseball player David Ortiz took a selfie with President Obama from a Samsung device. It was all over the news.

This time, the reaction was a bit different. Speculation began as to whether this was a publicity stunt and the White House would have none of it. This time headlines read “David Ortiz Selfie Scandal Rocks the White House.”

If you do the math, I’d guess these were both wins for Samsung. But from a branding perspective, they’ll now have to deal with the perception that any public selfie taken with a Samsung device is attached to a multi-million dollar publicity stunt (as opposed to famous people using a great device because they want to).

The Intel case outlines an important shift in the history of personal computing—when computers stopped being a niche product, where the consumers were IT heads, and started being a mass market consumer product. While for the IT professional, knowing all the technical specifications of a product is imperative, the average consumer doesn’t understand too much about technical specifications and really only wants to know about what’s in it for them (browsing the internet, sending email, storing photos, using word processing software, etc.).

It’s not hard to see why overly technical advertising wouldn’t strike a chord with this new customer segment, but I can imagine how contentious it would be to break from the norm and hire the Blue Man Group to sell your product. What have they got to do with technology?

I particularly like the quote in the case about marketing Coke and Pepsi: “[They] don’t market their products by telling consumers, ‘We have a little more sugar and a little less caffeine.’ They market based on feelings and experiences.” This analogy made me think of a video I saw in a Design Club event last year. It’s a satire of what the iPod packaging would look like if Microsoft were to redesign it.

I find it confusing to put together such contradictory concepts as accessible luxury. Can Burberry really be aspirational and accessible at the same time? Can they cater to the signature check lovers and please the Burberry Prorsum customers at same time?

This case reminded me of Longchamp in many ways. In my previous life as an Architect I worked on a project for one of their stores and it baffled me that the brand’s signature Pliage bag, which brings in a staggering percentage of the company’s revenues, was not given more attention. In fact, the family, who still controls the company since it was founded in the 40s, seemed to want to focus all the shelf space to the more pricey leather bags. All the advertising was also targeted at the more expensive leather pieces and, like Burberry, they also felt that Kate Moss would be the perfect personification of their prodcut.

But how can two such distinct products exist under the same brand? Who is the Longchamp woman? Its hard to define (and design for) a brand when it appeals to such a broad customer base—the success of the Pliage means that it appeals to everyone from a teenager in high-school to her grandmother.

I would guess that the luxury items (and Kate Moss, of course) would help sales of the more accessible Pliage immensely. But what does the omnipresence of the Pliage do to the luxury image of the brand?

"The Illusion of choice" shows which brands are nested under the same house of brands. I would never have guessed that L’Oreal is under Nestle (still can’t really fathom that Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney are under L’Oreral either—am I missing something?). But, as today’s reading suggests, would you really go down the shampoo aisle and choose between P&G Dandruff control, P&G Combo or P&G Healthy Hair? No, not really. Instead, we love to assert our preference for certain brands, and our distaste for others, even if they are essentially the same product and their marketing teams sit across from each other at headquarters.
I, for one, have a negative association with Dasani because it is owned by Coca Cola, but I like SmartWater and, lo and behold, they are also under the Coke umbrella of brands. #firstworldproblems

"The Illusion of choice" shows which brands are nested under the same house of brands. I would never have guessed that L’Oreal is under Nestle (still can’t really fathom that Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney are under L’Oreral either—am I missing something?). But, as today’s reading suggests, would you really go down the shampoo aisle and choose between P&G Dandruff control, P&G Combo or P&G Healthy Hair? No, not really. Instead, we love to assert our preference for certain brands, and our distaste for others, even if they are essentially the same product and their marketing teams sit across from each other at headquarters.

I, for one, have a negative association with Dasani because it is owned by Coca Cola, but I like SmartWater and, lo and behold, they are also under the Coke umbrella of brands. #firstworldproblems

Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic seem polar opposites, which is perhaps what makes SIA’s investment in Virgin so ingenious. In stark contrast to SIA’s poised and elegant Singapore Girl campaign, Virgin America recently made social media headlines with a bold and catchy safely video that has now been seen by more than 9 million viewers on youtube. I’m not sure that SIA would ever tell their customers to “zip their lips” or call out the .oo1 percent of passengers who have never operated a seatbelt before (“Really?”), but it seemed to resonate with passengers who appreciated the refreshing take on what is otherwise a mind-numbing 4 minutes.

Despite their differences, SIA and Virgin both stand out in regard to customer service. Each airline found a way to build their relationship with their customers in an authentic way, so perhaps they are not so different after all.

Concha y Toro always reminds me of my grandfather. Growing up, I spent summers at my grandparents and my grandfather would always tout the health benefits of red wine. His wine of choice was always Concha y Toro because it offered great value for money. I always assumed that this was because products from Chile wouldn’t get taxed as highly in Brazil as products from Europe and the US, so I was surprised to learn that this was actually the brand perception globally.
The case also reminded me of a documentary I watched recently (and highly recommend for anyone interested in branding, the wine industry or China) called Red Obsession. It focuses on the other spectrum of the wine industry, the 5 grand cru houses in the Bordeaux region and the Chinese obsession with these powerful brand names—Chateaux Lafite above all. Lafite made a bold move to add a number 8 in Chinese character to one of its bottles and the response was astounding. Bottles were auctioned off for obscene amounts. The Chinese thirst for these branded wines crush its supply. So, can Chile take a piece of that? I’m inclined to say no, but I would certainly want to try if I were them.

Concha y Toro always reminds me of my grandfather. Growing up, I spent summers at my grandparents and my grandfather would always tout the health benefits of red wine. His wine of choice was always Concha y Toro because it offered great value for money. I always assumed that this was because products from Chile wouldn’t get taxed as highly in Brazil as products from Europe and the US, so I was surprised to learn that this was actually the brand perception globally.

The case also reminded me of a documentary I watched recently (and highly recommend for anyone interested in branding, the wine industry or China) called Red Obsession. It focuses on the other spectrum of the wine industry, the 5 grand cru houses in the Bordeaux region and the Chinese obsession with these powerful brand names—Chateaux Lafite above all. Lafite made a bold move to add a number 8 in Chinese character to one of its bottles and the response was astounding. Bottles were auctioned off for obscene amounts. The Chinese thirst for these branded wines crush its supply. So, can Chile take a piece of that? I’m inclined to say no, but I would certainly want to try if I were them.

The success of the iPod is certainly attributable to a number of factors, but, when the topic of conversation is diffusion, one particular detail comes to mind: the white headphones. Because most people would keep their mp3 players in their pockets or purses, observability was impaired. Apple simply changed the color of their headphones (and prominently displayed them in the silhouette ads) and suddenly you didn’t need to see the music player to know that someone was listening to an iPod. It became a symbol, a statement, and a powerful contributor to spreading the iPod “contagion”.

The success of the iPod is certainly attributable to a number of factors, but, when the topic of conversation is diffusion, one particular detail comes to mind: the white headphones. Because most people would keep their mp3 players in their pockets or purses, observability was impaired. Apple simply changed the color of their headphones (and prominently displayed them in the silhouette ads) and suddenly you didn’t need to see the music player to know that someone was listening to an iPod. It became a symbol, a statement, and a powerful contributor to spreading the iPod “contagion”.

Forecasting Adoption and predicting diffusion can be tricky when it comes to new product categories. Segway is an example of overestimating initial adoption. Steve Jobs was quoted saying it would be “as big a deal as the PC” and venture capitalist John Doerr touted that it would be “bigger than the internet”. No pressure! But Segway grossly missed the mark in the consumer market (it has, however, proven very useful law enforcement industry).
I’d argue that the Segway didn’t really offer enough of a relative advantage on a day-to-day level to the existing mode of transportation: walking. At least not enough to outweigh the initial $3,000 price point. Complexity was also an issue—would they ride on the street or on the sidewalk, would they follow traffic laws, where would they park? It turns out that many US states eventually banned people from ridding Segways on sidewalks. Most of all I think the problem lay in status. Somehow, it never caught on that it would be cool to ride these gyroscopic devices. In fact, I think the perception is exactly the opposite.

Forecasting Adoption and predicting diffusion can be tricky when it comes to new product categories. Segway is an example of overestimating initial adoption. Steve Jobs was quoted saying it would be “as big a deal as the PC” and venture capitalist John Doerr touted that it would be “bigger than the internet”. No pressure! But Segway grossly missed the mark in the consumer market (it has, however, proven very useful law enforcement industry).

I’d argue that the Segway didn’t really offer enough of a relative advantage on a day-to-day level to the existing mode of transportation: walking. At least not enough to outweigh the initial $3,000 price point. Complexity was also an issue—would they ride on the street or on the sidewalk, would they follow traffic laws, where would they park? It turns out that many US states eventually banned people from ridding Segways on sidewalks. Most of all I think the problem lay in status. Somehow, it never caught on that it would be cool to ride these gyroscopic devices. In fact, I think the perception is exactly the opposite.